'Toolkit' case: Delhi's Patiala House Court sends climate activist Disha Ravi to one-day police custody

The Delhi Police had sought five-day custody of Ravi and argued that they needed to interrogate the climate activist with the other accused, Nikita Jacob and Shanatanu Muluk who joined the probe on Monday

FP Staff February 22, 2021 18:33:38 IST
'Toolkit' case: Delhi's Patiala House Court sends climate activist Disha Ravi to one-day police custody

File image of climate activist Disha Ravi. Image courtesy: LinkedIn

The Patiala House Court in Delhi sent climate activist Disha Ravi, arrested in connection with the 'toolkit' case, to one-day police custody, according to several media reports.

The Delhi Police had sought five-day custody of the 21-year-old climate activist — whose three-day judicial custody ended today — but Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma allowed custodial interrogation of Ravi for one day after police said she was required to be confronted with co-accused Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk.

Arguing in favour of five days police remand, the Additional Public Prosecutor claimed that Ravi was shifting the burden on the other accused: Mumbai lawyer Nikita Jacob and Pune engineer Shantanu Muluk.  "I (the police) have to confront her with other accused. They came to Delhi today morning," the prosecutor argued, as per Bar&Bench

Earlier, in the day, a senior police officer told news agency PTI that Jacob and Muluk joined the probe in the case on Monday and are being questioned at the Delhi Police's Cyber cell office in Dwarka.

While Ravi was arrested on 13 February by the Delhi Police, who are probing the "toolkit Google doc" backing the farmers' agitation shared by climate activist Greta Thunberg, Jacob and Muluk have been granted pre-arrest bail by court.

Referring to the Delhi High Court's order on 19 February that called some of the media coverage of Ravi 'sensational and prejudicial', the Additional Public Prosecutor said he can't reveal details that are likely to hamper the probe but told the court that the toolkit contained hyperlinks directing to "very dangerous" pages, reported Bar&Bench.

Ravi had last week moved the Delhi High Court seeking that the police be restrained from leaking to the media any material with regard to the FIR against her, after which the court issued notices to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) and a few media houses.

The court had asked the police to file an affidavit containing its submission that it has not leaked any material relating to the investigation to the media.

The prosecutor in today's hearing claimed that the email was created by one of the accused and referred to a purported Zoom meeting.

"The story starts from 11 January after which a Zoom meeting took place which included Nikita, Shantanu, Mo Dhaliwal and Anita Lal," LiveLaw quoted the police as saying. "Dhaliwal and Lal run the Poetic Justice Foundation organisation that carries anti-India publications," police alleged as per Bar&Bench.

"On 6 December, there was a Whatsapp group created by Disha Ravi. The other co-accused were also added in the group. Those persons have protection. On 20 January, the toolkit was prepared involving these three. On 23 January, Disha shared this Toolkit with Mo Dhaliwal. On 3 February she sent it to Greta Thunberg," the police claimed as per LiveLaw.

The police alleged that the toolkit was deleted because it had hyperlinks to "defame" India and that there were 60-70 more participants in the meeting.

Arguing in favour of five-day custody of Ravi, the police contended that all the three accused have to be interrogated and "we have only seven days." "We have no other option but to confront Disha Ravi with the other accused who have protection. Nikita and Shantanu are part of the group," Bar&Bench quoted the police as saying.

The Cyber Cell had lodged an FIR against "pro-Khalistan" creators of the toolkit for waging a "social, cultural and economic war against the government of India".

Ravi's counsel advocate Sidharth Agarwal argued against five-day police custody, contending that she had already applied for bail and the bail hearing is scheduled Tuesday. "This is an attempt to overreach while my bail application is pending," LiveLaw quoted Agarwal as saying.

According to Bar&Bench, Agarwal further argued that it was just a way to get Ravi back to police custody. "Today after arguments on bail, the issue is that they want to talk about everything else and everyone else to say that she did something wrong," he said while pointing out that Ravi was not part of the Zoom meeting.

Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana had on Saturday reserved orders on Ravi's bail plea for 23 February.

Reading the application moved by the Delhi Police, Agarwal said that the facts mentioned in it were also there in the first police custody remand application.

A Delhi court had sent Ravi to five-day police custody on 14 February after it said her custodial interrogation was required to probe an alleged larger conspiracy against the government of India and to ascertain her alleged role relating to the Khalistan movement.

On 19 February Ravi was sent to three-day judicial custody by the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.

 Agarwal also argued that the trial court should not grant remand without any justification.
“Remand can be asked for only cases where there is a necessity. Magistrate should refrain from giving remand where there are chances of police extracting confessions,” Agrawal said. “The other two accused are not in remand and the investigation has not been throttled. Today investigation can be done through virtual conference links also,” the NewsMinute report quoted Agarwal as saying.

According to LiveLaw, the police told the court that they filed the application to facilitate the probe."We have not asked for unnecessary remand after expiry of 5 days. We feel it today since the other co-accused are here. It is not a petty case. It has  It has transnational ramifications. This is why the new application is filed today so that we can facilitate the investigation", the police said.

"I want to know, why is police custody remand is seen as a punishment? Why the accused is seeing as if something wrong will come against her in police custody remand?" the additional public prosecutor asked when Ravi's counsel made his submissions.

According to Bar&Bench, the prosecutor contended that the other accused may take advantage if police custody of Ravi is not granted.

A toolkit is a document created to explain any issue. It also provides information on what one needs to do to address the issue. This might include information about petitions, details about protests and mass movements.

With inputs from PTI

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